Leading Italian Film Producer Calls For $16 Billion Lawsuit Against Italian State For Alleged Inaction Against Piracy
from the good-luck-with-that dept
Last year we wrote about EMI suing the Irish government for having the temerity not to pass a SOPA-Like censorship law. That truly extraordinary sense of entitlement seemed to be a one-off, but The Hollywood Reporter now brings us another (via @LifeinSicily):
Italian producer Aurelio De Laurentiis has proposed a €12.5 billion ($16 billion) class action lawsuit against the Italian state for lost revenue he says movie producers have sustained because the state has done too little to combat piracy.
The justification for that rather significant sum is the following:
"The problem of piracy is very important, and I say we should ask for €12.5 billion in order to obtain at least €2.5 billion [$3.2 billion], the amount we lose each year because of piracy," De Laurentiis said.
There was no explanation of where that €2.5 billion figure came from. According to estimates quoted in Techdirt's "The Sky is Rising 2", gross box office sales for the Italian film industry were €700 million in 2011, so it seems highly unlikely that it is "losing" €2.5 billion each year. It may be significant that De Laurentiis is part of a dynasty of famous Italian film producers who can be justifiably proud of helping to create some of the greatest masterpieces of 20th-century Italian cinema. Perhaps he is still hankering for those good old days when people flocked to see the latest productions from his father and uncle.
But that was then, this is now: the Internet is having a massively disruptive effect on the film industry, just as it is on many others. That doesn't give film producers any entitlement to handouts from the Italian state for sales they claim they might have made. And notice, too, that De Laurentiis is calling for compensation for allegedly lost sales, not lost profits, which might have been minimal.
It's sad that so many in the copyright world apply their creativity to thinking up reasons why they should be protected by governments from the massive changes underway throughout the world, rather than applying that creativity to coming up with new ways of making money. They could do worse than listen to Riccardo Tozzi, president of Italy's audiovisual association, who was the co-host with De Laurentiis of the film industry symposium where the latter made his call for legal action:
Tozzi suggested a different tact: making it easier for people to legally download films, for a fee. "We should balance the threat of illegal downloads with a legal supply of films," he said. "It can be too difficult to download films legally, so there's no good alternative" to piracy.
Sounds easier than suing the Italian government....